JUNIOR HOILETT'S first goal in Premier League secured a top ten finish as Rovers ended the season with a superb win.
A goalless first half typified an end of season affair, but a slight change of formation at the start to the second half saw Rovers take control.
After a series of half chances, Steve Bennett then denied Rovers what seemed to be a clear cut penalty after James Collins brought David Dunn down in the area. The man in black choosing to card the Rovers man for a dive.
But that decision didn't prove to be costly, when with seven minutes remaining Martin Olsson crossed from the left and his big pal Junior Hoilett who climbed with Richard Dunne to head into the far corner of the game.
Villa threw the kitchen sink at Rovers in the last few minutes, but the defence, in which Grant Hanley played a superb debut, held on for victory and a place in the top half of the table.
Manager Sam Allardyce hinted he would spring a surprise or two for the final match of the season and that proved to be the case.
All the talk ahead of the game was of a possible debut for midfielder Amine Linganzi, that came true, but Sam named a second debutant in Scottish under 19 captain Grant Hanley. The central defender coming in for his first experience of Barclays Premier League action with Ryan Nelsen heading back to New Zealand to prepare for World Cup duties.
The third Rovers change saw Junior Hoilett come in on the right side of midfield with Morten Gamst Pedersen dropping to the bench.
For the hosts, Martin O'Neill named an unchanged side for the sixth consecutive game.
To the outsiders this game had little riding on it, but for both clubs there were incentives if a positive result was gained. For the home side it would mean consolidation in 6th place in the table and no need to play an extra qualification round in the Europa League. For Rovers it could mean a top ten finish.
Both sides created chances within the opening ten minutes. On 7 a Stewart Downing corner kick picked out James Collins, but his near post header was superbly saved by Paul Robinson.
Rovers went down the other end and fashioned a chance of their own. From David Dunn's corner Grant Hanley hooked the ball on before it came back to the corner taker. Dunn let fly towards the near post but his effort flew a couple of yards wide.
Then followed a spell where there was little in the way of goalmouth action. Villa looking neat and tidy with their approach play, Rovers doing well at closing down the space and defending their area.
A corner from Rovers almost saw them take the lead but Hanley's downward header was just wide from Dunn's kick.
The Rovers supporters had been in fine voice, but little had been heard from the home fans, indeed the largest cheer of the first half came when the official on the nearside tripped over his own feet and went flying to the ground.
Strangely the second biggest cheer of the first half came when Stephen Warnock could no longer continue. He'd earlier seen his heels clipped by Junior Hoilett, but after briefly returning, the former Rovers man was eventually replaced by Luke Young - much to the delight of the home supporters. The Rovers fans chanted Warnock's name, which was clapped by the defender.
Aston Villa came close in the final moments of the first half to breaking the deadlock. Paul Robinson saved well to push away a James Milner free-kick, then some last ditch defending from Salgado and Amine Linganzi kept the hosts at bay after Robinson had saved James Collins' long range strike.
At the break Sam Allardyce made his first change of the game. Amine Linganzi, who looked bright in possession and made some important interceptions on his Premier League debut, replaced by Morten Gamst Pedersen.
That also brought about a change of formation with Junior Hoilett moving further forward to partner Jason Roberts in attack, and that change saw Rovers take control in the opening second half exchanges.
David Dunn saw an effort deflected wide, Hoilett and Pedersen both went close. But Rovers should have had a penalty on 58 minutes when Dunn was upended in the area by James Collins. Referee Steve Bennett took his time to make his decision but it wasn't one the Rovers fans were expecting as he produced a yellow card for Dunn.
Undeterred, Rovers continued to press, Keith Andrews seeing his smart drive pushed aside by Friedel.
But an injury to Gael Givet saw Phil Jones come on to replace and the reshuffle at the back saw Rovers hand the momentum to the home side for a short period.
But with Grant Hanley in imperious form there was no way through, the young Scot brilliantly intercepting a Carew cross after Milner had got past Samba.
Villa had their own shout for a penalty themselves when Carew went down under the challenge of Samba, but Bennett, like his decision earlier, waved away those claims. At least he was consistant.
As the game entered the final ten minutes of the season it was Rovers who grabbed the decisive goal when Martin Olsson made space down the left flank and sent over an enticing ball for his best mate Junior Hoilett who got to the ball ahead of Richard Dunne to head past Friedel and into the back of the net.
Villa threw everything forward in the final exchanges, but the young Rovers defence, plus the old head of Michel Salgado, stemmed the claret tide to claim the victory, their first outside Lancashire in the league this season and a thoroughly deserved place in the top ten.
ASTON VILLA: Fiedel, Dunne, Downing, A. Young, Milner, Carew (sub Heskey 76 mins), Agbonlahor (sub Delfouneso 78 mins), Petrov (c) (c), Cuellar, Warnock (sub L. Young 41 mins), Collins.
Subs not used: Guzan (GK), Sidwell, Reo-Coker, Beye.
ROVERS: Robinson, Salgado, Samba (c), Hanley, Givet (sub Jones 63 mins), Hoilett, Andrews, Linganzi (sub Pedersen 46 mins), Olsson, Dunn, Roberts (sub Emerton 85 mins).
Subs not used: Brown (GK), Jacobsen, Grella, Kalinić.
Booked: Dunne, A. Young (Aston Villa), Dunn (Rovers).